Miami Heat 2020 Free Agency Grades
Almost like normal, NBA free agency was a flurry of moves out the gate and settling down quickly after. With all the major moves done, let’s take a look at how the Miami Heat did in 2020 free agency.
Goran Dragic signed a 2-year deal for 37.4 million with a team option in year two
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo may be the Heat’s best two players, but Dragic was the team’s best scorer in the 2020 playoffs. Until his unfortunate injury, the Slovenian guard powered Miami’s offense with his drives, spacing, and playmaking. The six-year Heat veteran is also an established leader both on and off the court. at 34, though, his age is starting to show, both in injuries and on the defensive end.
Given what Dragic can do on the offensive end, roughly $19 million a year is a fair price. While his age may be a concern, the contract is short and includes a team option in the second year so there’s no long term commitment. But the main reason for the team option is to keep cap space available in 2021 when Miami wants to go whale hunting.
This is a fantastic deal for the Heat, letting them retain one of the core players from their recent Finals run to go at it again. At the same time, this still lets Miami be a player in next year’s stacked free agent class.
Meyers Leonard signed a 2-year deal for 19.5 million with a team option in year two
Leonard was great for Miami last season, stretching the floor from the center position by bombing 41% of his 2.5 3-pt attempts per game. The problems came when it was time for the playoffs, where his limited mobility on the perimeter all but removed him from the rotation. The 28-year old composed himself well and stepped up when asked during an injury plagued Finals, but at the same time showed his limitations.
At first glance the price and years aren’t too bad and they accomplish Miami’s goals of balancing being competitive now while keeping the books open for later. The issue comes from paying $10 million a year for a player that couldn’t crack the rotation come playoff time. However, there is value for a player that can help alleviate the burden of the regular season on others until it’s the playoffs.
There’s real concern paying this much when Leonard will most likely be a regular season player, but this is mostly about next season. as he’ll likely be an unrestricted free agent again next offseason, Leonard should come in motivated and ready to expand his game. Still, if all he does is keep Miami healthy for the playoffs and hold cap space until 2021, that’s a win.
Avery Bradley signed a 2-year deal for 11.6 million with a team option in year two
If the Heat had one key weakness on defense last year, it was a point of attack defender that could pick up playmaking guards like Bradley can. The 30-year old is a good role player on offense that can knock down open shots and keep the ball moving. He’ll help expand the guard rotation in the regular season, probably to keep Dragic healthier, but could break the playoff rotation in the right matchup.
If it hasn’t become apparent yet, Miami really wants to keep cap space open for next free agency. This deal keeps that in mind while addressing Miami’s biggest problem on defense last season. Balancing both for only $6 million a year is an easy win for the Heat.
Bradley gives the Heat a clear rotation upgrade without sacrificing long term money. He’ll be a regular season rotation player and should the Heat face a superstar scoring guard in the playoffs he’ll be ready.
Maurice Harkless signed a 1-year deal for 3.6 million
Harkless is an active, effective perimeter defender that can help round out Miami’s regular season rotation. Where Harkless will struggle is on offense as he’s not a great spacer or playmaker, something key to be a role player in Miami. It’s hard to envision then how much of a role, if any, he’d have come playoff time.
A one year deal continues the trend of keeping Miami’s books open in 2021. at $3.6 million, it’s also pretty cheap, which is about the perfect price for an end of rotation player.
Boosted mainly by the low overall price, Harkless looks like a good addition to round out the Heat’s roster. Like Leonard, he’s mainly there to keep the more important players healthy through the regular season until the playoffs.
Udonis Haslem signed a 1-year deal for 2.6 million
After 17 physical years, Haslem has become a bench fixture that occasionally comes off during blowout wins. Off the court, though, he still has tremendous value for what he provides in the locker room. Haslem has been the spokesman for Heat culture for almost two decades, guiding young players as an unofficial player coach.
It doesn’t get much cheaper than $2.6 million for one year. Haslem provides plenty of value with his leadership, regardless of if he ever sees the court. For an end of the bench player, that’s a good return on investment. Also, nothing that would affect 2021 cap space.
For an outside observer, it’s understandable if it looks odd that Miami would continue re-signing an aged veteran that barely plays. But those that follow or are within the team know Haslem is still an exemplary leader in the locker room and a guiding presence for the rest of the team. Haslem will always have a place on Miami’s roster, and for good reason.